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Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Ashland Fire & Rescue work to restore watershed ecosystem

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Jackson County, Ore. - Lomakatsi Restoration Project works with Ashland Fire & Rescue to reverse 100 years of fire suppression to the Ashland Watershed. Working together will help restore a thriving, balanced ecosystem to the area.

"[We want to] recreate a stand structure, or a forest structure, that would've naturally occurred through periodic and constant fire in the watershed," Shane Jimerfield, program director at Lomakatsi, said.

To recreate what should have naturally happened without protection and fire suppression, the groups use fire to prevent fire. That's where Ashland Fire & Rescue comes in - they help reintroduce fire to areas of the watershed to make sure overgrowth does not happen.

"What we want to have is a patchwork, juxtaposed landscape, open and closed, and everything in between that provides a diversity of habitat for all kinds of animals," Chris Chambers, from Ashland Fire-Rescue, said.

Every 10 years, Ashland Fire & Rescue has to return to make sure the areas burned early on in the project - which started seven years ago - have not overgrown again.

This year, workers started cutting down trees in November and by the end of June about 24,000 trees will be removed from the watershed.

"A lot of the old forest is still here, and so finding those anchor spots - the old growth, the big trees - and [we work] from that as a reference to reduce the number of trees and freeing up and maintaining the old growth that's already here," Jimerfield said.

The replication process takes a lot of research to determine what is best for the environment and habitats.

"Through fire suppression, it changed all of this," Jimerfield said. "Our role is really to try and mimic the role of fire through some of these operations and then get fire back on the landscape."

The work is never done.

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